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Fed Fears Ease; Dow Flat; First Lady of Wall Street; European Markets; Bo Xilai Trial Concludes; New York Versus Trump; Dollar Stronger; Advice for Charlie

Aired August 26, 2013 - 14:00   ET


RICHARD QUEST, HOST: Show us the goods. The US economy is not looking so durable at the moment. We'll have a report on that.

New York state sues Donald Trump, according him of defrauding students.

And too frightened to ask your boss for a raise? The approach to ask those tricky situations at work.

I'm Richard Quest. We start a new week together, because I mean business.

Good evening. Investors are breathing a little easier today, and in the topsy-turvy world of today's markets, it might seem almost perverse that the reason they are being more cheerful is because of an unexpectedly weak report on the US economy.

Orders for durable goods dropped 7.3 percent in July, the most in almost a year. Now, on average, 4 was expected, a decline of about 5 percent. So, this is why investors are more cheerful, because a big miss could signal a delay in the Fed's tapering plans, the so-called "Sep- tapering," which is due to happen -- or it was feared it was going to happen.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange for me now. Alison, you have got to admit, it is a very rum business when the market falls -- sorry, when the durable numbers fall and investors cheer.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's the whole bad news is good news psyche that so often goes on here on Wall Street ever since that quantitative easing began years ago.

What's interesting when you look at all this data that's been coming in here in the US, you look at -- let's take the durable goods reading. It definitely complicates things for the Fed. That 7.3 drop in that headline number was huge.

But there is another side of this because, Richard, investors know that the transportation portion of that reading is extremely volatile. And when you go ahead and strip out those aircraft orders, it makes a huge difference, and you find out that orders actually fell just 3.3 percent.

So, what this is is really just the latest mixed signal that we're getting on the economy and making it more difficult, I would assume, for the Fed to make its decision next month whether or not it should taper sooner rather than later, Richard.

QUEST: Remind me where we stand with the markets, because this is -- of all the weeks in the summer, this is probably going to be the quietest week. Let me tell you. It is the bank holiday weekend coming up next weekend in the United States. Europe, of course -- the UK -- has a bank holiday at the end of the summer today. So, we're in a very slow period.

KOSIK: Exactly. And right now, you're seeing the market pretty much flat, although it's in the plus column. Yes, you're going to see this week be very quiet. We are getting GDP coming out this week. All eyes are going to be on that report. But yes, a lot of people are on vacation and it's typical for August.

Already for August, you look at the Dow is down 3 percent, but then you look for the year, the Dow is up 15 percent. So although you are seeing the Dow kind of hang out around that 15,000 mark, it hasn't done too poorly this year, Richard.

QUEST: And we'll talk more about it during the week on the question of whether you're better to have a correction or merely tread water for several weeks whilst cement goes into the underpinning of the market. Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange.

Since it is a quiet-ish week in the market, Wall Street will today be mourning the passing of what -- the person who is called the First Lady of Wall Street. She was Muriel Siebert, and "Mickie," as her friends called her, passed away on Saturday in New York. She was age 80.

The first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, which she bought in 1967. And she remained the only woman there for the best part of a decade. This is Muriel Siebert ringing the closing bell --




QUEST: -- to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that milestone. She attributed her success to hard work, determination, and helping other people.


MURIEL SIEBERT, "FIRST LADY OF WALL STREET': It takes some intuition, it takes a lot of studying. You have to have enough ego to say "I can do this" and put that energy into it. You also have to be able to sell your idea, because you can have the best ideas in the world.


QUEST: Now, part of her legacy is the Siebert Financial Corporation, and Jill (sic) Macon is the director, and Jane joins me now. I beg your pardon. Jane joins me now.

Jane, I only had the privilege of meeting Muriel, I think, once or twice when I interviewed her over the years. Graceful, elegant, and charming, and very determined. What do you think was her major and most important contribution?

JANE MACON, DIRECTOR, SIEBERT FINANCIAL: Mickie was one -- a person who burst the bubble. She was the one who went over the mountain and had a go of it. She was the one who made it possible for all of us today, men and women.

Not only was she a pioneer, she was a trailblazer. When people said she couldn't be on the Stock Exchange and buy a seat, she went to nine bankers. The bankers said no. She went to the tenth and she got a yes. She needed sponsors. She went to nine, and she got a tenth.

QUEST: All right, but --

MACON: Mickie is a -- has a legacy for all of us to follow.

QUEST: Did she see herself as a pioneer. Quite often, whenever I meet women who have been in this situation, they say, well, "I don't -- that didn't occur to me at the time. I was just doing what I was doing and what seemed the right thing to do."

MACON: It was the right thing to do. I don't think she focused on being a pioneer until many years after she had accomplished as much as she had to be on the Stock Exchange. But she was a door-opener, setting up the literacy program for other women and men to be able to understand financial literacy.

And only later in her life did she even look at herself as a pioneer. She was busy doing what needed to be done to open the doors for others.

QUEST: And in times of market crisis or market flux, what would be her typical reaction? If the market was in full flood in one direction or another, was she the sort of person who got riled and got stuck in there, or was she a calm one, who stood back and watched?

MACON: I don't think Mickie every stood back and watched.


MACON: Mickie was always out in front. As you know, she was on may of your programs, and she was always advising the population to trust in America, that America, she would always say, is the engine. And as long as we're the engine, we have to set a standard for the world.

QUEST: With that in mind, she lived through some extraordinary times, from -- obviously the era of globalization. Did she rally to that? Was this something that she recognized was crucial, for America not only to look at itself, but also expand?

MACON: Yes. Mickie would look at some of our European friends and some of the, as she called them, "the pigs," and she would say, if they get a cold, we're going to have some response. And so, with that in mind, she thought it was very, very important to make sure that we kept America financial strong and had a trust and integrity as we were involved with investors in the market.

QUEST: Jane Macon joining me to talk about Muriel Siebert.

MACON: Thank you.

QUEST: Thank you very much, Muriel Siebert, the First Lady of Wall Street, who died.

European stocks closed mostly lower on Monday. Well -- now look at these numbers. Milan, down the best part of 2 percent on the MIBTEL index. Paris was off just -- well, it was off -- barely off at all. And London and Frankfurt -- London, of course, is closed today for a holiday. The Frankfurt DAX eked out a small gain.

But that very sharp loss in the -- in the Italian market on concerns about the leadership crisis in Italy. Members of Silvio Berlusconi's party have warned they could and would bring down the government if the former prime minister is expelled from parliament. In that scenario, that is why the MIB is on a frolic of its own, you might say, and has fallen so sharply today.

Now, on tomorrow's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, Nina Dos Santos will be talking to the minister about the fast-approaching German elections, his outlook for the German and European economies.

And of course, also reports now that Greece may need -- will need a third bailout. Economic support is how the Greek Finance Ministry is calling it. What does the German finance minister think of Greece's necessity for more cash? That's the Schaeuble interview on tomorrow's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Coming up next, China's trial of the century wraps up after five days. The verdict, and then the sentence, coming up.


QUEST: The trial of the disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai came to an end on Monday, and the prosecution said in its closing arguments that it was Bo's refusal to admit guilt which warranted a severe sentence. No date for the verdict has been announced.

From China, our correspondent David McKenzie sums up a trial and a court case that has riveted the country.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Billed as China's trial of the century, five days of testimony in this court in Jinan gave us a peak into the high-flying lifestyle and alleged shadowy dealings of Communist Party elite and the defiance of a man who's rarely conformed in his career.

Bo Xilai, the former powerful party boss of Chongqing, facing charges of bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power. Bo surprised many by putting up a vigorous defense against the charges, saying only that he'd made some mistakes, but admitting no wrongdoing. And in a system where most offer confessions and there's a 99 percent conviction rate, Bo impressed many.

FRANK CHIN, AUTHOR AND COMMENTATOR: I think he has performed very well in court. He has -- he seems to have a good legal mind and has been able to argue use own case very well.

MCKENZIE: In a first, the Chinese government released the proceedings by posting court transcripts on a Twitter-like site. By trial's end, more than a half million Chinese signed up. State media called the move historically transparent.

MCKENZIE (on camera): But two sources with close knowledge of the proceedings told CNN that key moments in Bo Xilai's testimony have been removed from the official transcript, not published to the public. They say in particular moments where Bo is cast in a positive light.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): This was billed as an open trial, but CNN and other independent media wasn't allowed in, and the government repeatedly stopped us from reporting outside as well.

MCKENZIE (on camera): -- see the trial. This is supposed to be an open trial. This doesn't look very open to me.

CHIN: They have to be aware of the political ramifications of what is said in court, and even though they say it's an open court, still there are no foreigners allowed, there are no foreign journalists allowed in there. And they have allowed themselves the ability to censor whatever bits that are too sensitive.

MCKENZIE: Many in China have followed Bo's trial for the sordid details of alleged murky dealings, testimony about a luxury villa in France, foreign trips, and a personal safe full of cash from Bo's wife, Gu Kailai. She's serving time for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

And Bo face off with his former police chief, Wang Lijun, who fled to the US consulate and revealed the killing. According to transcripts, Bo denied his wife's claims, calling her insane and Wang a liar.

But what the transcripts didn't say and what sources told us, is that Bo pleaded with the judge, asking him not to use the trial to crush the intimate feelings of his family

MCKENZIE (on camera): We may never know what exactly transpired in this courtroom, but the Communist Party controls all aspects of the legal system in China, so it's unlikely that Bo Xilai will escape conviction. He may still get the death penalty.

David McKenzie, CNN, Jinan.


QUEST: Now, a rather nasty spat of a very different kind in the world of capitalism, this time a war of words between Donald Trump and Eric Schneiderman, who is the attorney general of New York.

Trump is vigorously defending his investment institute known as the Trump University. Schneiderman's calling the school a scam, a bait-and- switch scam. As Alison Kosik reports, neither side is backing down.


DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I've got to listen for them.

KOSIK (voice-over): He's America's most-famous billionaire, never one to shy away from the spotlight.

TRUMP: You're fired.

KOSIK: From his "Apprentice" reality show to his almost-run for the White House to his demand that President Obama hand over his birth certificate, now Donald Trump is grabbing headlines again in a bombshell lawsuit accusing him of fraud.

TRUMP: At Trump University, we teach success. That's what it's all about, success. It's going to happen to you.

KOSIK: But New York state's attorney general says that promise was empty for students at the real estate mogul's investment school, Trump University. The state wants $40 million for what it says the school wrongly took from people who attended classes.

TRUMP: We're going to teach you about business, we're going to teach you better than the business schools are going to teach you --

KOSIK: It alleges Trump misled perspective students with a bait-and- switch. If they wanted to get rich, they'd have to pay $1500 for a three- day workshop. Once there, then came the push for a year-long course at $35,000.

The lawsuit says instructors even urged students to call their credit card companies to increase their limit so they could sink even more money into classes. Classes Trump defended in a tweet, saying there was a 98 percent approval rating of students for courses.

Another allegation says students were told Trump would make an appearance during the seminars. Instead, they had their photo taken with a life-size picture of him.

LAURA RIES, MARKETING STRATEGIST: They wanted to be near Donald Trump, and I think that was the biggest problem in terms of people being disappointed.

KOSIK: Trump is slamming the attorney general's suit, telling CNN's Chris Cuomo he thinks it's politically motivated and that former students loved the school.

TRUMP (via telephone): We sort of gave a report card on ourselves to every student that took the course. We had a 98 percent -- if you go to Wharton, if you go to Harvard, they don't have a 98 percent approval rating. People loved the school. The school was terrific, and we got sued for lots of different reasons, primarily he wants to get publicity.

KOSIK: Alison Kosik, CNN, New York.


QUEST: A battle that has all the elements of a good New York spat. A Currency Conundrum for you tonight: which country has the largest counterfeiter of US currency? The US, North Korea, or Zimbabwe? The answer later in the program.

The dollar is slightly stronger against the pound and the euro, it's flat against the yen. Those are the rates --


QUEST: -- now for the break.


QUEST: Every parent wants to hand down good advice to their children, and very few will get personal tips from a US president or some sports star. Tom Fletcher was the British ambassador to Lebanon and had been collecting handwritten advice from people while on the road away from his six-year-old son, Charlie.

The notes have now been turned into a book, which Charlie will receive when he turns 16. Speaking to me recently, the ambassador explained why he started collecting these notes and why he did it.


TOM FLETCHER, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO LEBANON: Well, I was doing a very -- I was very privileged to be doing that job, working fairly closely with world leaders, with three British prime ministers. You come into contact with the most extraordinary inspirational people all the time. But it was also a job that took you away from the family, and my son was pretty young at the time.

And so, I wanted to find some way to produce something for him that would have a lasting value, and so that's where we got the idea to seek the advice of these various characters that I was coming across.

QUEST: And what was the core piece of advice you wanted them to give? Lessons for life? What they needed to know to be successful? What was the raison d'etre of the advice?

FLETCHER: Well, the question I'd always ask them is, "What advice would you give to my son Charlie when he's 16?" And so I didn't try to steer them in any particular direction. A lot of the advice they gave was very aspirational, dream big dreams, do what you believe in and so on.

But also, some of them went for very practical advice. They'd talk about taking lots of exercise or staying hydrated or trying not to take up smoking. But all of them also spoke about family. There was a thread that ran through all of the advice they gave, which was about the importance of really prioritizing the people that mean most to you.

QUEST: Isn't there a healthy dose of hypocrisy in that piece of advice, since all the people who've given it have probably at some point or another neglected or abandoned their family in the furtherance of their careers, ourselves included, probably?

FLETCHER: There is that irony there, isn't it? You often hear politicians and others, I'm sure, journalists as well, saying "the most important thing to me is my family" while they're spending three days or four days away from their family pursuing their career. So, I guess there is that irony, and I certainly felt that irony myself in that I was on the road for days on end away from my young son.

QUEST: If you reflect upon it, which bit would you guide your son to read first?

FLETCHER: It's a tricky question. Barack Obama said as he was filling out his advice that my son Charlie would either be a very rich person or a very clever person, depending on whether he sold the book or read the book. I would hope he would read it all. I would hope he'd absorb it all.

For me, of course, the most important bits of advice were those bits from family. So, for example, from his great-grandfather, who's no longer with us. But I think one of the most moving bits of advice was actually from Mikhail Gorbachev.

And he wrote, "Charlie, I may no longer be around by the time you actually come to read this advice, but what -- you will take from life what you put into life." And I thought, he thought very carefully about it, and I thought that was quite profound.

QUEST: In fact, that's one of the interesting things about this book, isn't it? They -- when you've asked them to do it, many of the leaders have given serious thought. They haven't just dashed off a few old bromides.

FLETCHER: That's true. You'd expect them to have a few lines up their sleeve, but actually, in many, many cases -- for example, George Bush took the book away with him to the White House for a few weeks to reflect on it. President Clinton wrote out his advice in draft first. We were in a car bumping along through the English countryside and he was very thoughtful.

And as more and more leaders contributed, the leaders became more thoughtful because they would read what the others had written and reflect on that as well. I think there was a certain amount of competitive advice- giving going on by the end.


QUEST: That's the former UK ambassador to Lebanon -- or the UK ambassador to Lebanon about the new book.

Now, in the next few minutes, we're expecting the US secretary of state, John Kerry, to make a statement on Syria from the State Department. This is obviously the scene at the State Department. We're told it's supposed to happen at 2:30 Eastern time, which is in three minutes' time.

So, we'll have the news headlines, we'll continue our way in our nightly conversation, and as soon as the secretary of state starts speaking, we'll bring it to you.



QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. More QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. This is CNN, and on this network, the news always comes first.

A team of United Nations inspectors came under sniper fire today in Syria. Government officials and Syria's main opposition group had agreed to ensure the group's safe passage to collect samples from a Damascus suburb hit by an alleged chemical attack last week. It's not clear who was behind the shooting. No one's injured. A team is evaluating its findings.

And we're due to hear shortly from the US secretary of state, John Kerry. When he speaks, we'll bring that to you.

Bo Xilai's corruption trial concluded today after five days of hearings. The disgraced Chinese Communist Party official faces charges of bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power. The court says the verdict will be announced at a later date.

The death toll has risen to six after a cargo train with stowaway migrants derailed in southern Mexico on Sunday. Government authorities are investigating if heavy rains played a role in the accident. The victims were traveling on a train nicknamed "the Beast" or the "Train of Death."

Young Palestinians set fires and threw rocks against Israeli forces after a deadly shooting at a refugee camp in the West Bank. Both sides agree that Israeli security forces opened fire. Israel says it was self- defense. The Palestinians say it was an act of aggression.

Police in Ireland are investigating the death of a Polish national whose body was found at a recycling plant in Dublin. The remains of the 43-year-old Henryk Piotrowski were discovered last Friday. He was believed to have been homeless and may have climbed into a bin to seek shelter. The container was crushed after being loaded onto a waste collection truck.



QUEST: Iraqi police say attacks on Sunday claimed the lives of at least 27 people. More than 60 more were wounded. The deadliest of the incidents happened in northeastern Baghdad. A bomb exploded inside a coffee shop in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood, killing at least 10 people.

Another attack killed five soldiers in Mosel in north of the country.

Despite this, Northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region has generally been more peaceful than the south. John Defterios recently visited Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan and found the city enjoying an investment boom that's fueled, of course, by oil and gas.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heart of Erbil, a cause for celebration, a wedding party emerges in one of the city's many parts on a sunny weekend afternoon.

In the shadow of all that greenery, one finds the Empira Compound (ph), home to million-dollar villas. And just down the road is Erbil's first five-star hotel, the Rotana.

As general manager Thomas Touma says, it's where business recipes have been whipped up since they opened their doors nearly three years ago.

THOMAS TOUMA, GEN. MANAGER, ERBIL ROTANA HOTEL: It becomes a kitchen; in the lobby of the hotel becomes a kitchen where all those business deals are cooked.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Often described as the Switzerland of Iraq, not only for its greenery but for its business prowess, the capital of the Kurdish region is being fueled by oil and gas profits. Northern Iraq sits on an estimated 45 billion barrels of crude, prompting developers such as Dean Michael to be part of what is a vibrant building boom.

DEAN MICHAEL, DEVELOPER: Open to the kitchen, this is plenty of room for a kitchen.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): He put up this neighborhood of four-bedroom villas.

MICHAEL: I don't know how to describe it, but it has grown and it will still grow and I believe that we will be comparable to modern countries in about 10 years' time.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): A bold prediction from one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. After three years of oil prices averaging more than $100 a barrel, the country's fourth largest city is now enjoying a second boom from wealthy Syrians, Lebanese and Egyptians, fleeing violence and uncertainty back home.

DEFTERIOS: This coffee and tea bar in the old side of Erbil represents a bit of the past. But the new economic numbers in this city are impressive. In the last six years alone, overall, the northern region, we've seen foreign direct investment of over $20 billion with some 2,000 companies either investing or working in the Kurdish region.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): It's not all upbeat. One still hears complaints from traders within the old citadel about how some are being left behind. But this is a city on the go, painting a very different picture from the days when Kurds suffered atrocities under Saddam Hussein.

Once isolated, it's now a highly connected airline hub.

TOUNA: Three years ago, I remember we had (inaudible) around 15-19 flights per week. Today, they are about 90.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Flights, which keep a steady flow of business deals being made in a city which today seems far removed from the sectarian violence in the south -- John Defterios, CNN, Erbil.


QUEST: Now there are many typical conversations that you can have in the workplace. The question is: how do you tell your boss and how do you handle some of the really difficult ones? There's a right and a wrong way to talk to your boss, and we'll give you some guidance after the break.





QUEST (voice-over): A little earlier, I asked you which country is the largest counterfeiter in U.S. currency and the answer is North Korea. (Inaudible) they counterfeit more U.S. currency than anybody else. Check your wallets closely.

The difficult question -- excuse me -- in the workplace, when asking for a pay rise, apparently it's very easy to let your self-doubt take over. You might think your boss doesn't think you're worth the extra money. Well, here's how to tackle five of the hardest work conversations.

Join me over at the CNN superscreen and you'll see what they are. They are the five really tricky, nasty ones.

The first one, of course, is "I want a raise." Now according to the author, Ron McMillan, who co-wrote "The New York Times" best seller "Crucial Conversation," what you don't do is compare yourself to everybody else and say, I'm badly gone to (ph). Instead, you say, "I want a raise because of these reasons," and you put forward structural reasons.

The second difficult conversation, "My performance review was unfair." Apparently this one is a -- is something that a lot of people have real difficulty with, trying to explain why they should be (inaudible). "Something shady's going on." Now obviously with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Bribery Act in the U.K., something shady's going on creates -- or "something illegal is happening in the company" -- that creates great difficulties for most people.

"I need more help," admitting this, of course, is -- can be honestly seen as a sign of failure. After all, we're all supposed to be able to do what we do and do it well.

And then, finally, "Your strategy is ridiculous." Telling your boss fundamentally is the -- fundamentally that he's on -- doing it the wrong way is one of those things that of course people have great difficulty.

So all of these issues can come up in the workplace.

Joining me now to talk to me about this is Ron McMillan.

Ron, we've had a huge debate in the office about these. I actually think asking for a rise isn't that difficult; but telling your boss that he's got the wrong strategy is the most difficult.

Which is it? Which for you overall is the most difficult?

RON MCMILLAN, AUTHOR: Telling your boss that her strategy's ridiculous. That's the hardest one for me.

QUEST: And yet one colleague in the office said that women find it more difficult to ask for a raise than men. I'm not sure why that would be; maybe you've got some thoughts on that, @RichardQuest is where you can join the tweet on that.

Pulling these strands together, what have you learned about these difficult questions?

MCMILLAN: Well, in the United States Army they say don't disagree with your commanding officer until you salute the flag. We find the key with each of these is to first identify mutual purpose, that you're not trying to be a rabble rouser; you're not trying to undermine the boss' credibility or authority, that you want the organization to succeed; you want the team to succeed. You want the boss to succeed. To actually state that up front --


QUEST: No one -- ah, come on, Ron. Nobody believes it. If you go in there and say I don't agree with my review, or I have trouble with the strategy that we are following, ergo, you are questioning his judgment or her judgment and ability.

There's no getting away from it. You can't break the eggs -- you can't make the omelet without breaking eggs.

MCMILLAN: Try this, Richard; say, "Boss, I really want us to achieve our goal at the end of the quarter. And I have some ideas that I think would be helpful. Would you be willing to consider those?"

QUEST: You could try it.

All right. Convince me, Ron, that you need a pay rise. Come on. How would you go about it? Because I say, Ron, come on into the office. Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable. What can I do for you?

MCMILLAN: Well, let me begin by what you don't do. You don't cite personal reasons as the reason for a raise. What you want the boss to do is make this decision based on merits not on a charitable contribution. And so I would start by saying I want to talk to you about getting paid more money. And then go to the facts.

Hopefully, you've researched (inaudible) positions like yours pay in other organizations and the geographical area. You start putting those facts forward and what you've accomplished and how you've added value.

QUEST: Now in all of these, in all of these with the pay rise, with the review, with the help and even with the strategy, if your boss basically says, Ron, nice chap; I do applaud what you're doing. I see where you're coming from. The answer is no; I think you're misguided. I'll see you next month. Goodbye.

Do you go in for round two or do you give up?

MCMILLAN: Oh, you thank the boss for their time and attention and then you being preparing for round two. And the most convincing data you can give them is outstanding performance, but often they miss it. And so you want to document what are you doing that is adding such value and that's what you're going to present in round two.

QUEST: And I shall say, well, and thank you so much. I shall thank you for joining us and I shall prepare for round two with you in the future, since I know you and I will talk more about it.

Now look, you must have some views on this. @RichardQuest, what for you is the most difficult part of that conversation? Is it strategic review? Is it telling your boss that he's wrong? Or is it asking for a paycheck?

I have to say Tom Sater, at the World Weather Center, the best one I've heard so far, the best one I've heard so far is the person who tweeted me and said the most difficult conversation with the boss is to say to the boss, "Stop seeing my wife."



QUEST: To which somebody then retweeted back to me, "Or say to the boss, 'I'm seeing your wife.'"

SATER: Right.

QUEST: Either one of those could be a job loser.

SATER: Well, I know next time I go, I'm going to take you with me. I'll give you 3.5 percent if you get me another 10.

Good negotiation work there, right?

Here we go across Europe. We're watching what was a pretty interesting weekend. We had some isolated thunderstorms, if you're traveling, the heat continues in parts of Portugal and Spain. You can see the spin. This is from Sunday now. You see some for the totals; we even had a waterspout near Croatia off the coast there. But some pretty good rainfall totals.

This area of low pressure continues to spin. Look at the thunderstorms around Tunisia, again southern parts of Spain, not up to the north where they need them, where they have some fires that are burning, parts of northern Portugal and Spain. But the event we're watching as far as level 1 and level 2 and severe weather comes in areas of Spain, most of this will be isolated events.

But we could have some small hail, maybe some damaging winds. So if you are traveling in this general area by air, keep this in mind. Computer models hinting at a fact that maybe a slight delay from Paris or Vienna, Zurich, maybe even to Frankfurt, Munich as well, only 15-30 minutes. That's based on some low visibility, maybe some isolated showers. Temperatures remain average in parts of London, Paris very good.

I mean, we're in the last week of August here. We could see unseasonably warm numbers like we have parts of Madrid. But elsewhere, in Manila, we had heavy rainfall, terrible flooding, 60 percent of Manila was underwater just last week due to a system that we have been watching; a second one on the way, finally Japan sees a reprieve in their heavy rain.

We're watching now another tropical storm. Its name is Kang Rhee (ph), will not enhance that heavy flooding in Manila, will not make landfall in Taiwan. Good news if you're flying into Taipei. But we'll start to skirt northward and we'll watch that one closely. The numbers, Beijing 30, still quite warm in areas of Chongqing.

But as mentioned, they are drying out, nice numbers. In Tokyo, in the U.S., the southeast starts to get a break from the heavy rainfall. We are going to watch thunderstorms up to the far north make their way into New England areas, so New York, Philadelphia, chance of maybe a slight delay, again, due to some thunderstorm activity.

This is for late on Monday into Monday evening, keeping an eye on the high heat if you are traveling to the U.S. Keep in mind their numbers will be 5 to 10 degrees warmer than average, watching mid-30s, Richard, in Minneapolis to areas of Chicago.

QUEST: I was in Midland, Texas, over the weekend filming. Interesting part of the world, but by jingo, it's hot down there.

SATER: Yes, it is. It's very hot in the Lone Star State.

QUEST: Absolutely. And in fact, thank you, Tom Sater.

A viewer's just tweeted me, saying that apparently the sleeves of my suit look dreadful today. I guess it's because it hasn't properly been pressed after being in the South.

(Inaudible) dreadful.

Anyway, when we come back, it will be a record -- world record football transfer fee. The deal for (inaudible) Gareth Bale is not yet over. We're live in London with the latest. And when you hear how much money's involved, I (inaudible).




QUEST: Final negotiations for the most expensive player transfer in the history of football are going on right now at this moment.

Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale is on his way back from Spain, reportedly ready to stand for Real Madrid in a deal could be worth $145 million.

Amanda Davies is following this story for us. Amanda joins me now.

All right. Amanda, let's get away from the moral question of whether anybody is worth $145 million. But if you accept that footballers are worth, is this player worth a lot of money in the scheme of the game?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, football morality is always a little bit of a tricky one, Richard. I think we are very better off steering away from that.

But, yes, Gareth Bale is undoubtedly a very talented young footballer. This deal, we don't know -- it's certainly not a done deal; there's always one transfer that keeps us going throughout the transfer window with a speculation. We've gone from talking about the done deal here to now a possible deal being done.

But the numbers that are bandied around at the moment are somewhere between $20 million and $40 million more than the previous world's biggest transfer, which was Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2009.

Gareth Bale is only 24 years old. So that means he has a good another 8 or 9 years barring injury in front of him on the field.

QUEST: I'm interrupting you just briefly, there, because as regular viewers of this program will know, I know virtually nothing about this sport. And I'm always grateful that you help me understand my way through it.

But as a business question, why would Real Madrid pay that much money?

And the second question, related of course, is if he's that good, why would Tottenham want to get rid of him other than for the money?

DAVIES: In terms of why would Real Madrid pay that amount of money, it's whether or not they're going to be able to recoup it. And what Real Madrid have been trying to win for the last 11 years, Richard, is the big elusive 10th European crown. And they believe this is a player that might be able to help them do that.

And if they do that, then actually this amount of money is irrelevant because of the success and the sponsorship deals, the TV deals, the shirt sales that they get as a result of winning the Champions League. Barcelona, their great rival's, very cynically saying, well, they're just trying to do it to show us up, to show that they are now the biggest club in Spain and not Barcelona.

It's a difficult one, but in terms of football, it's a business, isn't it, as we know all too well at the moment. And Spurs (ph) have already brought in five or six other players in this transfer window, spending this money before they've got it in the bank. But they believe that those five or six other players combined are worth more than one player that is Gareth Bale.

QUEST: Extraordinary. I mean, this really is a -- it's about business as much as anything else, (inaudible) at these sort of sums involved. And that doesn't include the agents' fees and everything else that all goes on top of it and the lawyers' fees. And you're looking at tens of millions more.

Interesting stuff. What's your gut feeling? Will it go through?

DAVIES: Yes. I think both clubs have so much invested in this. As I said, Spurs have already spent the money as if they've got it in the bank. Real Madrid wants their player. We were able to buy Gareth Bale's shirts on their club website on Thursday night; they erected a stage to unveil their great new signing on Friday.

But I have to say Gareth Bale was in Spain over the weekend. There are widespread reports he's now back in the U.K., expected to go to training with Spurs on Tuesday. But Real Madrid are actually playing this evening. So they've got their mind on that, who's on the pitch just for a few hours at least.

QUEST: Right. Many thanks. Thank you for joining us, making sense of it all; classic business situation.

Now I asked you @RichardQuest whether or not what was the hardest conversation that you would have think you'd have had.

Mark Kido (ph) -- I beg your pardon; before we get to that, I think John Kerry is about to speak at the U.S. State Department. Let's listen.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: -- his entire national security team have been reviewing the situation in Syria. And today, I want to provide an update on our efforts as we consider our response to the use of chemical weapons.

What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.

By any standard, it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.

The meaning of this attack goes beyond the conflict in Syria itself and that conflict has already brought so much terrible suffering. This is about the large-scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else.

There is a clear reason that the world has banned entirely the use of chemical weapons. There is a reason the international community has set a clear standard and why many countries have taken major steps to eradicate these weapons. There is a reason why President Obama has made it such a priority to stop the proliferation of these weapons and lock them down where they do exist.

There is a reason why President Obama has made clear to the Assad regime that this international norm cannot be violated without consequences.

And there is a reason why no matter what you believe about Syria, all peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again.

Last night, after speaking with foreign ministers from around the world about the gravity of this situation, I went back and I watched the videos, the videos that anybody can watch in the social media. And I watched them one more gut-wrenching time. It is really hard to express in words the human suffering that they lay out before us.

As a father, I can't get the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child, wailing, while chaos swirled around him, the images of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of blood or even a visible wound, bodies contorting in spasms, human suffering that we can never ignore or forget.

Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass.

What is before us today is real and it is compelling. So I also want to underscore that while investigators are gathering additional evidence on the ground, our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience, and guided by common sense.

The reported number of victims, the reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, the first-hand accounts from humanitarian organizations on the ground, like Doctors Without Borders and the Syria Human Rights Commission, these all strongly indicate that everything these images are already screaming at us is real, that chemical weapons were used in Syria.

Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took place. And with our own eyes, we have all of us become witnesses.

We have additional information about this attack and that information is being compiled and reviewed together with our partners, and we will provide that information in the days ahead.

Our sense of basic humanity is offended not only by this cowardly crime, but also by the cynical attempt to cover it up.

At every turn, the Syrian regime has failed to cooperate with the U.N. investigation, using it only to stall and to stymie the important effort to bring to light what happened in Damascus in the dead of night.

And as Ban Ki-Moon said last week, the U.N. investigation will not determine who used these chemical weapons, only whether such weapons were used, a judgment that is already clear to the world.

I spoke on Thursday with Syrian foreign minister Muallem. And I made it very clear to him that if the regime, as he argued, had nothing to hide, then their response should be immediate, immediate transparency, immediate access, not shelling.

Their response needed to be unrestricted and immediate access. Failure to permit that, I told him, would tell its own story.

Instead, for five days, the Syrian regime refused to allow the U.N. investigators access to the site of the attack that would allegedly exonerate them.

Instead, it attacked the area further, shelling it and systemically destroying evidence. That is not the behavior of a government that has nothing to hide. That is not the action of a regime eager to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons.

In fact, the regime's belated decision to allow access is too late, and it's too late to be credible. Today's reports of an attack on the U.N. investigators, together with the continued shelling of these very neighborhoods, only further weakens the regime's credibility.

At President Obama's direction, I've spent many hours over the last few days on the phone with foreign ministers and other leaders.

The administration is actively consulting with members of Congress, and we will continue to have these conversations in the days ahead.

President Obama has also been in close touch with leaders of our key allies, and the president will be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.

But make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny. Thank you.

QUEST (voice-over): The U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, with an extremely forceful statement at the State Department before -- not even taking any questions at the end there.


QUEST: He says -- he described the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria as "a moral obscenity. It's real and compelling," he says.

He says that the government's -- will -- decision and reaction will be informed by facts and guided by conscience, referring to seeing the videos of these suffering. He says, "It's hard to experience the human suffering," and get the pictures out of his head, "the people dead in their beds, bodies contorting in spasms."

And he said, "This is about the large-scale use of weapons that should never be used."

And finally, in reference to what the U.S. president is considering and how high up the priority this now is, he says nothing day is more important on the agenda.

We'll have more, of course, on what John Kerry said and the reaction to how he said.